Brooksie Miller of Maxwell is an avid reader of both the Tri-County Times and the Nevada Journal.
And in one of those newspapers this winter, she can’t remember which, she saw a little announcement of an Iowa Egg Council contest for cooking with eggs.
“They said the recipe needed to use at least four eggs,” and Brooksie had just the thing. It was something her daughter-in-law in Pennsylvania had made when they were there visiting. “It was really good,” Brooksie said.
Her husband, Doug, who was listening in, smiles as his wife looks over at him and makes a comment that it’s not something her husband would eat. He agrees. “I’m an old meat and potatoes farm boy,” he said.
But the creation her daughter-in-law called Sweet Potato Pie, which she had admittedly just thrown together, was something Brooksie enjoyed, and then made for the women in her neighborhood “Desperate Housewives” club, which often gets together to try new recipes and such. “They loved it,” Brooksie said. “It had their stamp of approval.”
So she thought she’d try seeing what the Iowa Egg Council would think of it.
She layered it in a pie dish and actually wrote down the amounts of things she used — which her daughter-in-law hadn’t done — so that there would be a recipe to turn in with it for the contest.
To make it, she steamed three sweet potatoes and then smashed them on the bottom of the pie dish. The next layer was a cup of fresh spinach leaves. Next, half a cup of onion, chopped in big chunks, and then a medium bell pepper (red, orange or yellow), chopped in big chunks, were added. On top of all that, she sprinkled half a cup of feta cheese, poured over it six beaten eggs and then topped the eggs with three-quarter cup of cheddar cheese. She baked it for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees.
It was good enough to earn her third place, and a monetary reward of $150, in Iowa Egg Council’s “Incredibly Good Eggs” Recipe Contest.
She learned about her win from the newspaper, when we contacted her wanting to do a story. But soon after, she received a congratulatory card in the mail from the Iowa Egg Council. And it was fun for her to know that they liked the recipe, which she promotes as something great to serve a family for its nutritional value. Even if Doug doesn’t like it, Brooksie said it’s loaded with B vitamins, and she also cut out a little something from a magazine about the nutritional aspects of sweet potatoes, which have more than three times your daily requirement for vitamin A and are also a good source of fiber, vitamin C and potassium.
In talking with Brooksie, it is clear that she is much more than just a cooking contest winner … she’s a really fun person to get to know. She was born in Illinois, but her family moved around a lot when she was young, even spending time in Guam, and the states of Colorado and Montana. They were in Iowa at Ainsworth for her later school years, and she graduated from the local Highland High School, which is where she met Doug.
He was a freshman, he said, when “this cute little blonde came into German class.” Brooksie’s first impression of him, “He was shorter than I was.” “So I grew,” Doug said.
Thirteen years ago, the couple moved to Maxwell, where Doug served as superintendent for a time. They’ve stayed in Maxwell because they like it. They’re not too far from nine of their 12 grandchildren (three live in Pennsylvania), so they keep busy going to sports and other school events that involve their grandchildren.
In addition to getting together with the “Desperate Housewives” friends, Brooksie is very active in her church, the Methodist Church, where she is part of the SNOW (Sunday school Now On Wednesdays) planning group. One of the things she likes doing with that group is organizing the verses and other things that the kids will memorize monthly, and then helping award prizes at the end of it.
She also got the SNOW kids to start collecting stamps for a stamp ministry in Florida. “It was something I saw in Guideposts magazine,” she said. Kids bring in cancelled stamps off letters, postcards and other mailed items, and those are gathered and sent to the Stamp Ministry, where they are resold to stamp distributors. The money generated supports preparation, publication and distribution of Spanish Christian literature for Sunday schools in the USA, Central America and South America.
“It’s something the kids can do, and it doesn’t cost anybody anything,” Brooksie said. She said the stamp ministry started in 1972, when she is told it made $1,400 from the stamps collected. In 2015, she said, it made $41,000.
Brooksie also belongs to a sewing group, the Monday Social Club and a card club. She likes photography and baking, and she loves to read, and even write. She once had a children’s story published for a children’s magazine.
When she worked outside the home, Brooksie never had trouble finding a job with her people-loving personality. She did waitressing, worked in a jewelry store and did a pretty long stint working in a bank.
As for her success in the egg recipe contest, Brooksie is asked if it will lead her to other egg pursuits, like some of the contests that are held during the Iowa State Fair. She isn’t sure about that. She might be too busy with a lot of other things this summer, so she doesn’t know. In February, when she saw the idea of the contest the Iowa Egg Council was having, she had the time. “I just really did it for the fun of it.”